Pop your own popcorn. Sit back and enjoy the show at your convenience, then join other moviegoers each evening, Monday through Thursday, for a virtual film club hosted by the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (DPAC) at the University of Notre Dame.
The initiative, titled Zoom Back Camera, is an ad hoc film club that encourages moviegoers to watch specific films in their spare time and later join scheduled online chats to share their thoughts and learn more about the film. .
According to Ricky Herbst, director of the DPAC’s Browning Cinema cinema program, this virtual interaction is meant to keep moviegoers connected during this time of social distancing.
“Before screenings at Browning Cinema, we have a tradition,” Herbst explained. “We invite guests to take 30 seconds to shake hands with someone you don’t know, say hello to a new person, or make a new friend. The goal is to actively build the dynamic and ephemeral communities that films have formed for decades. Our shared experiences in theaters are the reason so many of us have fallen in love with cinema – laughing, crying and screaming together is an amazing way to experience art.
“While we and many other places have moved significantly away from public screenings, the need for these shared laughs, cries and cries is felt more than ever,” he continued.
Each Friday, a new film program for the coming week is published on the DPAC Facebook page and sent to subscribers to the newsletter by email. Interested moviegoers choose which movies they want to watch and watch them at their own pace through their personal streaming service. At 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, Herbst is hosting a remote chat with a featured guest. Viewers are encouraged to join the online movie forum and submit questions and comments in real time.
Some movies may require a nominal online rental fee, while others are available through streaming services. There is no charge to participate in the interactive online discussion, which is broadcast on YouTube. To receive the DPAC e-newsletter, subscribe to performarts.nd.edu.
“It’s impossible to duplicate the rush to go to the movies,” Herbst said. “But, we work with what we have. We hope these screenings are a fun way for moviegoers to structure their day, learn more about cinema, and keep our community together until we can start shaking hands again at Browning Cinema.